Closing in on 10 years since her initial diagnosis of breast cancer, Pastor Mindy Elliot continues to be cancer-free.
Ten years ago next month, Elliot, who was living outside of Chicago at the time, was diagnosed with breast cancer after switching primary care physicians.
“She looked at my last mammogram and it threw up a red flag for her and then it was a whirlwind,” Elliot said. “I credit her. I keep saying, ‘You saved my life.’
“I still go back to the Chicago area for doctor appointments,” she added.
Elliot had a lumpectomy, followed by four cycles of chemotherapy and seven weeks of radiation.
“I told my doctors that I thought the world of them, but I didn’t want to see them again, so do whatever you have to do,” she said with a laugh. “We went pretty aggressively, and I wouldn’t do anything differently.”
She was ministering full-time at a larger church in the area, but would eventually decide to resign her call there and moved to Bryan, where she has family members.
“I made the move after the cancer diagnosis to be closer to family,” Elliot said, adding she was facing challenges while working such as not being able to go on hospital visits and shake hands. “I was good until chemo and my immune system went.”
After allowing herself some time to recuperate, Elliot began providing substitute pastoral services to congregations in northwest Ohio.
“I was having a lot of fun with that,” she said, adding she was able to learn about the area during that time and had worked multiple times at St. Peter Church in Ridgeville. “When they went into the call process, my name came up and I interviewed.”
She’s been with St. Peter for around five years now and remains cancer-free.
“I keep my doctor’s appointments and everything is good,” Elliot said.
After moving to Bryan, Elliot worked with the American Cancer Society’s Road For Recovery, which provides transportation for cancer patients, and has been involved in Henry County Relay For Life.
Overall, Elliot said she’s learned it’s important to rely on those around you.
“You really do need a support system,” she said, adding this area has a lot to offer as far as outreach and resources to those diagnosed. “When you’re first diagnosed, all this information is coming at you so quickly, it’s hard to take it all in.
“This area is so supportive with outreach, with helping families along their journeys of treatment, providing food and whatever their needs are,” she continued.
Elliot also said to always ask questions.
“There are no stupid questions or unimportant questions,” she added.Elliot, who has a family history of breast cancer including her grandma, two aunts and one cousin, said it’s important to have an annual mammogram.”Don’t let these things go because early detection and treatment,” she said. “When you have a family history, be extra, extra cautious.”
Elliot said she recommends a book from the Stephen Ministry, “Cancer — Now What?” to individuals after a cancer diagnosis and she’s received positive feedback.
“I would advocate for a church relationship also,” she added. “There’s nothing like the power of prayer.”